I initial interviewed Bob Iger in 2014, while doing work on a profile of the lengthy-time Disney CEO for Fortune.
“I hate that dude,” a Hollywood agent buddy of mine stated
when I advised him I was crafting about Iger.
“Why?” I asked, puzzled. From anything I knew about him, Iger
did not appear to be like the sort of CEO to elicit these a hostile response.
“He’s just so damn fantastic.”
Iger isn’t and wasn’t perfect—obviously. But up until finally this week’s abrupt announcement that he was stepping down from the top career, he had led Disney through an extraordinary, 15-calendar year run, both equally creatively and economically. Iger revitalized the beloved, legendary model. He inked large, daring acquisitions like Pixar, Marvel Entertainment, and Lucasfilm. This translated to record-environment earnings and financial gain numbers for the leisure juggernaut, and a share cost that has jumped a lot more than 400% above the program of his tenure. (It also translated to a significant paycheck for Iger—his yearly pay back was much more than 1,000 times that of the typical Disney staff, which has provoked the pretty vocal ire of some.)
As a leader, Iger achieved much a lot more than these figures. One particular of his most extraordinary feats is that he not often place his foot in his mouth, at the very least in general public, even with numerous, numerous opportunities to do so—the 2015 measles outbreak at Disneyland or the 2016 alligator attack at Disney Globe could have felled a lot of other CEOs.
He came throughout as considerate and quietly self-assured without seeming inauthentic or arrogant. (It’s a great line.) He understood that, when it comes to Disney’s products and solutions, aspects make a difference. To that end, he was aware—and experienced a hand—in an extraordinary quantity of seemingly inconsequential selections at the company, performing so without the need of establishing a standing as an insufferable micromanager. Circumstance in issue: All through a 2017 interview at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech meeting, Iger pointed out that people massive turkey legs marketed at Disney theme parks are sourced from Poland, illustrating his notice to moment facts.
Lastly, at a firm that employs a lot more than 200,000 men and women, he designed numerous workforce sense that they were being critical. One of the far more memorable times of reporting my 2014 profile on Iger was speaking to his driver in Orlando—the guy held a individual letter from Iger in his glove compartment and pulled it out to browse to me. It was a heartwarming and hugely individual note prepared to the driver when he was going through most cancers therapy, and it plainly meant the planet to him.
What does all of this mean for Iger’s legacy? All over again, he was not a great leader—no a person is. But, when his departure is abrupt, he is leaving Disney at a in the vicinity of-excellent time—much like the well known 󈨞s Seinfeld collection, he is exiting on a substantial notice. Whether he fails or succeeds at whatever he does subsequent, his legacy at Disney is rather considerably sealed, and it is a legacy that should really permit him to keep sleeping very well at night. (Iger is recognised for going to mattress early wherever he is in the world, and for generally waking up at 4:30 a.m. for an early morning exercise session.)
The entertainment landscape has shifted drastically more than the final couple of several years, and Iger’s very last bold moves at Disney replicate people shifts. In excess of the past number of months, he has closed the $71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox and introduced the a lot-awaited Disney+, the Mouse House’s solution to streaming services like Netflix. The two of people wagers are considerably from a foregone achievement, but early symptoms appear beneficial. And possibly way, Iger will probably be remembered for inserting these needed bets. It’s up to the new man to make guaranteed they are really worth the financial investment.
To be confident, the “new guy” isn’t new at all. Bob Chapek, who last served as the company’s head of parks, experiences and goods division, has been at Disney for 27 decades. And he already realizes the immensity of Iger’s shadow. “I definitely have enormous sneakers to fill,” he told CNBC in the course of a Tv set interview on Tuesday. “Bob’s legacy in the company is just profound.”
Extra need to-browse stories from Fortune:
—Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talks about winning back community believe in
—Does the co-CEO model actually function?
—Should CEOs continue to be on the board after they step down?
—What comes about to a company’s stock when there’s turnover at the major
—2019 was the yr of the CEO exodus
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